Mental Health

Holiday Stress

Stress is normal. Holidays or not, stress can change your body. So what happens? And how do you stay calm during the hustle and bustle?

The stores are filled with lights and fake wreathes the size of pickup trucks are adorning the small town grocery stores and big town malls. You just realized that you’re humming along to “Deck the Halls” while shopping for Thanksgiving fixings and planning the layout of where your extended family is going to stay. It isn’t until they start ringing up your groceries that the itch of anxiety becomes noticeable. 

Let’s talk about Holiday Stress.

Stress is normal. Holidays or not, stress can change your body. So what happens? And how do you stay calm during the hustle and bustle?

It’s no secret that men and women are different and one of those differences is the way stress affects women physically and mentally. Stress comes barreling down the chimney way before Santa Claus and it brings hormones such as cortisol. Stress is known to impact your entire body! It can cause problems with your immune system, digestive system, cause acne breakouts. It often reduces your sex drive and decreases fertility (not from the lack of your sex drive but literally from high levels of alpha-amylase, an enzyme linked to stress). Irregular periods, depression, weight gain, insomnia… you get the idea. As interesting as all these things are it’s the holidays and I’m way more interested in the solutions. 

First you need to believe that if you can change your mind, you can change your life.

Let’s put this in perspective. Stress is horrible for you. Yet you literally can’t stop it, you can’t calm down. Your mind is extremely powerful and it’s hard to comprehend that the stress comes from your own interpretation of situations out of your control. My number one fix for stress is to remind you that looking at that situation in a different light can drastically change your bodies reaction. 

If you don’t want to try that then here are some other helpful suggestions to keep calm during this festive season. Remember, if you don’t adjust your schedule to make time for these actives, you won’t actually be able to de-stress.

Here are 5 tips to reduce Holiday Stress:

  1. Get more sleep. Sleep is a natural healer. Unfortunately being stressed can sometimes keep our minds too busy for sleep. To avoid letting stress keep you up try taking a warm bath, reading a undemanding book, drinking tea. 
  2. Write your thoughts down. I don’t care if you burn the piece of paper after in the warm fire you’re sitting next to. Throw it down the garbage disposal if you must but get all those thoughts out of your head and onto paper. You won’t believe how much better you’ll feel. 
  3. Try relaxation techniques. Diaphragmatic breathing is a great exercise as it takes extra thought to breathe this way (Close your eyes and bring your attention to your body and breathe. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to fill with air, gently expanding out. Exhale by relaxing and releasing all of the air through your nose.) Normally doing this while saying in your head “breathe” or “relax” will clear your mind during the exercise (I suggest trying to do this uninterrupted for 5-10 minutes) or until you feel calm. 
  4. Make a list. Stress can come from many things. But even if your over arching stress is money or family, your “to-do” list in your day to day is probably adding to that anxious itch, making it all a little worst. Take out your phone or a notepad and write down everything you want to do. When you start crossing those items off you should feel a sense of accomplishment. 
  5. I know it’s the holidays and I know it’s family but learn to say “NO” because a huge reason we are often stressed is from overburdening our already full calendar. Taking on those extra responsibilities aren’t going to help your stress level. Plan ahead so you’re “no’s” are a little softer this holiday season. An example being: “Normally I’d love to but this isn’t a good time, I’ll let you know if anything changes.”

If all else fails I hope you at least have a glass of almond milk and some gluten free cookies to eat as you watch the snow fall and cozy up to a bright computer screen, the buzz of the fan keeping you warm as you listen for slay bells and then remember Thanksgiving hasn’t even happened yet. 

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